Library board agrees to discuss possible move to Normal College
TRURO – Library officials are prepared to explore the Normal College as a possible new home for the Truro branch.
Truro Mayor Bill Mills said council is expected to discuss the library board's decision at September's council meeting.
"They have agreed to look at the Normal College and have requested members of the library board be on the building committee," Mills told the Truro Daily News.
"To me, I think it's a huge step."
The library has been looking for more space for more than a decade while the town asked for proposals for a new library more than a year ago.
It explored utilizing a former hat factory at the corner of Prince and Court streets but some concerns were raised about the renovation and lease costs for the building. The town also found out in December that the Nova Scotia Community College was not going to be in a position to host a school for the performing arts at the Normal College for a few years.
Those developments led the town to explore the historic century-old building in the centre of the civic block as a potential home for the library.
Municipal officials with the town and county have met with regional library director Janet Pelley to discussion the situation.
"We went over our concerns about the reality of where we are with our budgets, and we in as much asked for some serious consideration for the Normal College site," Mills explained.
The Normal College was explored about a decade ago but concerns were raised at the time about the size, configuration and the ability of the floors to hold the weight of the library's material. Mills said the floors could be rebuilt, while Leo Rovers, of L&R Construction, said in his proposal more than a year ago that the floors could be fixed to accommodate the library.
Pelley told the Truro Daily News Thursday the board is willing to look at the Normal College.
"It's very early days (and) the board needs a lot more information," she said.
Mills said one possibility that could be explored is to move the library into the Normal College and the regional head quarters into the top floor of the former fire station.
Pelley said that might work but the two buildings would need to be adjoined in some fashion as staff from the head quarters work in the branch.
"It's a very integrated operation, which is why we have been able to be so lean all these years," she explained.
The branch employs 12.26 full-time equivalent positions while the regional headquarters employs 13.56.
The library began in 1950 in a building that was constructed in 1855 and located in the vicinity of the civic block. It moved to its current location in front of the Normal College in 1968 as part of a centennial project.
Many in the community have called for years for the current concrete building to be removed and the gardens that used to be located there restored. Mills said he has recently heard that some people don't support that idea, as it is an example of 1960 modernistic architecture.
The town has about $500,000 in reserves for restoring the Normal College.
Mills said the Friends of the Little White Schoolhouse are prepared to canvass the Normal College alumni for donations to help with the required renovations once a decision is made on its future use.
"I'm under the impression some very significant funds can be realized from that," Mills said.